Difference Between High-paid and Standard Freelancers


You want to know what is the Difference Between High-paid and Standard Freelancers? Well-paid freelancers have built a skill set around providing value.

Let me explain.

New freelancers tend to fall into one of two categories:

  • Just starting out (juniors) who don’t have suitable job opportunities around or want to learn at their own pace
  • Industry professionals without business skills

The first category can’t really scale their income due to their lack of experience. It would take them a few years (should they survive through the feast and famine) until they can reliably generate some decent income.

Veteran experts understand “how” to solve the problem, but don’t necessarily know “why” they solve it, “what” is the impact of their work, and “which” is the right subset of their expertise they need to promote.

High-paid freelancers solve complex, niche problems, outranking the competition by narrowing down to a subset of clients that could benefit a lot from their work.

There are multiple ways to get there but one of the winning combinations is:

  • Niching down
  • Specializing in a complex matter
  • Picking a specific client segment
  • Building a proven track record/portfolio

One of the most common mistakes I see with freelancers is their broad set of services they offer.

You don’t go to Wallmart to buy a professional laptop. Wholesale stores keep prices low because their customers don’t have high expectations for the goods they purchase. All boutique solutions are sold separately.

In the context of content production, here’s what differentiates the headline freelancers who start out on their way to market dominance:

  • Writer
  • Content writer
  • Content producer
  • Content marketer
  • SEO-driven content marketer
  • Content marketer profiling in lead generation
  • Landing page marketer with a proven track record of closing legal leads, increasing conversion rates and scaling organic visibility

This is just an example. Note how the last headline is tailored to a certain segment, delivers actual value, focuses on the right type of content (landing/sales pages), and taps on the pain points of the customer (sales, visibility).

In programming, it’s a similar scenario. Check out Upwork or any freelance sites and you’ll find millions of freelancers listing down half a dozen programming languages and frameworks. With 5–7 years of experience, I won’t see any credibility in someone who lists down 20 technologies, resulting in 3–4 months’ worth of average experience in each one of them.

Another sample breakdown to illustrate the difference:

  • Programmer
  • Developer
  • Web engineer
  • .NET developer
  • .NET architect (more vision/complex software design stuff)
  • .NET developer profiling in Microsoft Dynamics
  • Senior Microsoft Dynamics Developer helping warehouses and factories automate processes and increase reliability

Again, top clients will look for specific technology and the optimal match of skills as closely related to their problem. That’s what justifies the premium price.

They CAN hire an engineer who has some C# experience, but this would mean they need to wait for 2+ years until the developer is capable of modifying Dynamics to a certain extent, and even then, their know-how may not be as much as the expertise of a professional with several complex integrations in their portfolio.

Yes, freelancers often ignore that because they lose 80% of their leads. But C# projects may vary from simple ASP web builds to simple in-house desktop software apps to certain customizations. CRM solutions are closely related to the performance of a large organization, impacting revenue directly in case of a problem, and potentially losing thousands of hours a month on activities that could be automated or monitored (and mitigated).

Bottom line, find an expensive problem, make sure you’re great at solving it, market yourself accordingly and charge a ton more. Solving a $500,000 problem is worth paying you $50–100K for 50-100 hours of work.


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